Brilliant book. Rocket reaction.

Around one-in-ten Moodnudges readers already know what I’m going to say.

Does this mean we have a lot of mind readers in our database?

Well, possibly not.

The truth is that about 10% of our readership is currently taking part in the trial of Signpost, the new emotional health management tool we’re building.

What these trialists will know is that this week has been what you might call eventful.

A calculation hiccup resulted in some people being told they were angry when they weren’t.

I joked (nervously) that even if they weren’t actually annoyed to start with, being told this might irritate the heck out of someone.

Fortunately, everyone concerned seems to have taken it with good grace, understanding that these kinds of wobbles are the very reason you run pilot tests.

In fact, it gave me renewed joy to be reminded that you and our other readers are just so very, very nice.

What a fabulous community we have here, frankly.

In between discovering how physically tiring it can be when you exert yourself mentally, as I tried to fix the “anger-stat” (and a great reminder of how intrinsically linked physical and mental health are) I’ve also been enjoying reading a new book by Johann Hari: Lost Connections.

In his book, Hari argues that a great deal of depression may actually be due, not to disease, but to someone’s life circumstances.

Now there’s a thing.

If you feel friendless, lonely, or under-appreciated, he suggests, slipping into depression might simply be a natural reaction to unpleasant situations, rather than a chemical imbalance in the brain.

I am of course grossly oversimplifying the book’s theories, but they do really make sense to me.

Johann Hari has come under fire from some in the psychiatry profession, who claim he is suggesting that antidepressant medicines serve no purpose at all, and that he is claiming that people can recover from depression by making, on the face of it, simple life changes.

(Although you and I both probably know that, when you’re depressed, nothing is ever simple. Nothing.)

Actually, Hari doesn’t deny the usefulness of meds to some.

What he does say, though, and I think he makes the point strongly, is that medication must never be the only tool in the box.

And in fact this is entirely the view I’ve taken since Caroline, Adrian, and I started Moodscope in 2007, and also while I’ve been Moodnudging since my transplant to California in 2013.

Simple things like getting out in nature, connecting with others, remembering to be grateful, getting healthy exercise… these are all surefire ways to boost your mood.

As I say, I’m relishing Johann Hari’s book, which you may also enjoy. It’s a fast-paced, definitely not heavy, piece of writing.

My heartfelt thanks, as ever, to all those who are experimenting with Signpost, and my heartfelt thanks to you for reading today’s nudge.

If you fall into both camps, well, consider yourself impeccably thanked.

One last thing: that rocket launch on Tuesday.

Boy oh boy, what a magnificent achievement by Elon Musk and SpaceX, almost certainly doing their bit to lift the world’s mood.

Along, of course, with a cherry-red Tesla roadster carrying a Starman, who’d like to come and meet us, but who thinks he’d blow our mind.

He certainly blew mine.

9 thoughts on “Brilliant book. Rocket reaction.

  1. I don’t think that Hari is saying anything new at all – when I was first in therapy in the 80’s the doctor suggested that I improve the quality of my life – he did not elucidate sadly and my background was such that I did not know what he was talking about. It has taken me years to work it out (that’s me!) and although my life is infinitely better than it ever has been in many ways, the effect of traum and stress in childhood will never go away. I was on anti=depressants for years – all they did was help me cope a bit. But kindness and understanding from some professionals and now a more interesting life filled with good people has helped the most. And walking in the fresh air, swimming and good food and music

    1. You’re right, Judith, most of what Hari writes is a collection of existing knowledge. I’m finding it interesting to have it all gathered in one thread, though.

      Wow, what a forward-thinking doctor you had in the 80s, and thank goodness you’ve been able to put his thinking into practice, even though it took a time.

      Lovely to hear you talk about kindness and understanding, and an interesting life filled with good people. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hello Jon, I was discussing today’s Moodnudges message with a friend. The launch of the spaceship is indeed dramatic and potentially exciting progress for the future of our planet but, why does this get headlines when your new project does not (yet) ? What you are doing is bringing perspective, mindfulness and research to the source of all human progress: minds and hearts! Let’s get Signpost in the headlines as the launch of a powerful rocket!

    1. Haha Claire! What a great cheerleader you are.

      Yes, let’s hope Signpost grows up to be a power for good. A bit of tweaking to do first, but we’re getting there.

      Thank you.

      1. Maybe Claire could help get Signpost in the headlines!? Or maybe u cld, Jon, later .. U are , after all, and old adman.

  3. Watching the rocket launch yesterday really lifted my mood- excuse the pun. It nudged me to subscribe to the Guardian science newsfeed, so perhaps reading about new scientific discoveries will also keep me buoyant. I find the sign post really useful- especially the reminders to check in. Ta very much for letting me have a go.

    1. A great pleasure to have you on the team, Vanesa. And very happy to hear about your enthusiasm for science being re-kindled by this week’s rocket launch.

      Thank you.

  4. Hi Jon, I’m not sure if I was part of the glitch, as I really was angry the day you perceived that I was, and I found your message that day very useful – I’m loving my daily signposts. It seems like it combines the best of all you’ve done so far – my only worry that it’s a lot of work for you so I hope you won’t become stressed.
    That rocket – wow!

    1. Thank you for such kind thoughts, Mary. I think you’re right, this does feel like a natural progression from the work I’ve been lucky enough to do in the past. No, fortunately I’m not stressed. Particularly after I thought carefully about how to tackle the re-programming.

      My fingers are firmly crossed that all’s going to work!

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